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Breaking into the Energy Sector

Breaking into the Energy Sector main image

Considering pursuing a career in the energy sector? You won't be short of opportunites.

When the world welcomed its seven billionth inhabitant, it must have created a flurry of talk in the energy sector. If you are wondering why, here is the reason: population growth, along with economic prosperity, means an increase in demand for energy.

With the UN estimating world population to reach eight billion by 2025 and official figures projecting the world’s real income to rise by 100% in the next 20 years, the production and consumption of energy is bound to ascend. 

Sustainable futures

The need to have a sustainable future further puts the pressure on the energy sector to develop new and renewable sources of energy. This in turn requires new talent with relevant knowledge in rapidly emerging fields such as wind energy and solar energy. “The European wind energy sector alone is expected to create 250,000 new jobs over the next decade,” informs Vicky Kenrick, Sustainability Specialist at Allen & York.

Industry experts fear that this steep rise in demand may see the sector struggling to find the right candidates. “There will be a large resource constraint in human capital with relevant practical and international experience and capability required to match the growth of the sector,” says James Beazley, Director, Six Recruitment, a specialist executive search firm solely focused on the energy sector. 

To cater to this ever-growing energy demand, the recruiters are on the lookout for candidates who can deliver. However, many times recruiters face a bottleneck in terms of finding the ideal candidate and have learnt to focus on the ‘must-have’ qualities rather than the ‘perfect fit’, informs Beazley.

Recruitment strategies

With more and more oil, gas and power companies operating around the world, the pressure of finding candidates is high, but recruitment agencies have learnt to cope with this war for talent by taking some smart steps.

Beazley explains: “The recruiter is now looking for ‘potential’ in a candidate. If Candidate A has 75% of what the company ‘must-have’ at the moment and the final 25% gap can be closed if Candidate A works in their organization for six months—then a smart organization will hire that candidate and make it work.”

As far as the ‘must-have’ qualifications are concerned, one of the primary expectations from the aspirants is to have professional qualifications and technical proficiency, especially in the areas of engineering and technology.

“First and foremost, the greatest need across the whole of the energy sector— oil and gas, power generation and renewable energy—is technical expertise,” says Beazley. Mark Vidler, Business Director at Allen & York, agrees and says, “Recruiters are looking for more specific and quite specialist skills.”

Stay up to date

Keeping up-to-date about the latest developments and technological advancement within the industry is also a must if you desire a smooth entry into the sector. Richard de Doncker, Senior Building Services Recruitment Consultant at Allen & York, believes that aspirants with passion for their work, a strong academic record and the willingness to learn or take on work experience are highly valued by recruiters.

He says, “I very much look into the projects candidates have been involved in since clients are looking for people with relevant project experience along with qualifications.” He adds that being chartered can be a big advantage in this market, along with attending Continued Professional Development (CPD) events, and staying abreast with the current trends. 

Along with technical skills, recruiters also look for soft skills in the applicant. Although relevant business connections and experience in the sector are seen in good light, the ability to match technical skills with people skills is a much-desired quality in any candidate.

Beazley observes that while recruiters look for both functional and behavioural competence in a candidate, it is usually the latter which is hard to find. “Most international energy companies want candidates who think out of the box and are not simply order takers. They are looking for staff that work hard, look at situations to problems and solve them,” he says.

Additional assets

A candidate’s cultural awareness and open-mindedness towards various customs across the world are also valued assets. “The energy sector is an international sector with very few borders. Therefore, candidates have to show that they can work in varying environments with people from very different cultural norms to them,” Beazley observes.

Having a master’s or a PhD degree is considered a plus point in this sector and recruiters are more inclined to hire those with a second degree. “Doing a master’s degree in a specialist area can heavily increase your chances. As the field is still emerging, having a PhD means you have the know-how to research solutions thoroughly and come up with the best solution to the problem,” says de Doncker.

Beazley observes that a master’s or a PhD degree, especially in the technical disciplines ‘definitely helps’ any candidate. He adds, “PhD degrees are generally looked on positively and there are active programs by many companies in the energy sector targeted to hiring PhD candidates.”

The energy sector can be highly satisfying yet taxing to work in. If you are up for the challenges, then the sky is the limit for your career progression. 

QS Staff Writer's profile image
Written by QS Staff Writer

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